Window Light Series: Maggie Gray

 Hello everyone, so continuing with my experimental working simple; "Window Light Series" this is from a recent shoot I did with model Maggie Gray. Maggie and I expressed an interest in working together after meeting on Model Mayhem. I told her about my series and she was very interested but scheduling was an issue. Over the course of a couple weeks she threw out some ideas on the wardrobe she was thinking of and I also told her that since the weather was being on it's best behavior, we should do something by the beach.
Maggie came over and brought over some wonderful pieces. We picked the ideas for the Window Light session and then a few, including a bikini for the beach session. I love working with models like Maggie who just can hit pose after pose and even moreso with her is the sheer innocence she has at times. She laughed at that notion when I told her that suffice to say.
We nailed the Window Light session in about an hour. I tend to shoot very fast especially when I have everything planned and laid out. We packed up and headed on down to Howarth Park.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous and tide was very low, wish I had taken the opportunity to snap a few shot but I aim to do more for future blogs. Aside from the gawking railroad workers everything went well. Actually we were kind of off paying attention to the tide which started coming in quickly and got some of our stuff wet. All in all, it was another wonderful shoot down the pipes. Maggie was a joy to work and I look forward to working with her again. You can view some of the images below, hope you enjoy and stat tune to my next Window Light Series feature.

Window Light Series: Lorena Gabriela

For my latest series I decided to go with a bit of Occam's Razor, you know that which works simplest is sometimes that which works best. I quite often see photographers talking about all of the expensive gear that they have and showing off their high end studio spaces and this moved me to thought. Photography is less about the cost of the tools you have; camera, light, studios etc and more about your knowledge, skill and creativity on how to use those tools. Our biggest tool as photographers is light and one of the essential things is having an understanding of light, its behavior and how best to use it.
I wanted to do a set of portraits using as simple a set up as possible. On Amazon I bought the Fancierstudio Muslin backdrop Muslin Background  which was really cheap at $12.99. I had a good laugh  when it arrived because it was pretty much a tie dyed bed sheet, but hey you get what you pay for. So with a tie dyed sheet, some push pins and a big window, I was set to create some art. I contacted my friend and amazing model Nine Lorena Gabriela, she came over and we shot for about an hour. In keeping with my keeping it simple thought process I also did not spend a whole lot of time doing post work. For each image I spent about 30 minutes tops. I will be continuing this series so stay tuned and more than likely I will do a video on the post work. Feel free to message me if you have any questions and enjoy.

The fancy swanky studio and way expensive light source and model working doing her thang

PhotoExperience: Rachel Hines

The Hunt for The Location

One of the wonderful things about living here in the PNW as far as photography goes, is that there are so many sites to see and so many great locations to shoot in. I mean really and truly it's a veritable buffet of location delights and what really adds to it all is being able to see seasonal change. In the Bahamas, I could shoot in the fall but I could never really get that true look of Fall, I could never really  get that true look of Winter and now having that, there are endless possibilities for shoot concepts.

So I recently met Rachel Hines from a networking group and she was looking to build her portfolio. We discussed some ideas and it was on to me to find a good location. The location I had in mind was one that I visited in Bothell a couple years ago. For the life of me though,  I could not remember the name of it. A few search results and Facebook appeals pointed to Bothell Landing Park but from what I saw, it only bore a slight resemblance. The spot I scoped out was relatively smaller and had this bridge that I really liked.

This turned out to be one of those rare instance where I became grateful for technology. I recalled that I had taken a bunch of  photos of the location and as luck would have it, my images were synced to my Google account. Google also had the GPS of the location, so just like that, the problem solved, Canyon Park, Bothel. Hooray Google ☺.

When I first trekked there it was around Spring so everything was lush and Green. I had some rather interesting encounters that day I must say, everything from a big black bush snake to some Gangster Geese that chased me for getting to close to their territory. Seriously geese can be freaking vicious, I guess I wasn't fly enough for then, hahaha get it? No....oh okay. Well there was also this giant Rodent called a Nutria which was taking a dip in the nearby  pond. You will see it in the images below. It is basically a big Rat and considered an invasive species. Believe it or not though, Nutria are known for their delicious, low fat, high protein meat....yea that's right, some people eat them 😲.  As a matter of fact ,In my research I have even seen them referedd to as the other white meat.

All that deliciousness aside, Rachel and I set up our shoot and set our date and time. We got to out spot and ventured to our location. One of my big issues these days when shooting on location, is my distance to my set. I don't have any assistants and carry my gear by myself and you know what? Avengers C-Stands are not light. I used to use Alien Bees heavy duty light stands they were not as weighty but the overall quality was something that was never impressive. Rachel was a real trooper and helped, she was more of a trooper when shooting because it was COLD ❄❄❄. I am not talking ⛄ weather but it was a good 32, so cold in fact that I could not even hold my C-Stand for too long. At one point as I was setting up, I turned around and Rachel was shivering with her teeth chattering. I felt terrible ☹ and took off my jacket for her to wear. Cold weather aside we got some great shots and she absolutely nailed it. I am definitely going to have to shoot at that location again. Check below to see a few behind the scenes snaps and below those are some of the finished images. Hope you enjoy them and stay tuned, more images will be coming soon and feel free to comment.

The Voyeur And The Muse: Real Beauty

Real Beauty is the latest entry in my ongoing series The Voyeur And The Muse . This was another fantastic collaboration between model Nine Lorena Gabriela and myself which if you haven't you can read about here PHOTOEXPERIENCE: NINE LORENA GABRIELLA. After our shoot Lorena and I grabbed coffee and discussed several ideas that I had about future projects and discovered that we had a lot of similar ideas. It is always wonderful to meet a model that you get a long well with and share the same artistic sensibilities.

For those of you that do not know, The Voyeur And The Muse became a series where I was seeking to explore that connective tissue between the camera and subject. I have always had the idea for Real Beauty  in the back of mind but after a recent chat with a photographer about beauty in the world of photography and what the trends are in terms of what is more accepted, my interest was stirred again.

Suffice to say, In this digital age we live in, we hardly ever see real beauty. We all know that when we see people in magazines or any other medium, there is more than likely some degree of Photoshop work or what is more commonly called Airbrushing. Sometimes the image can be retouched so much that if you probably ever saw that  person in real life, they may be totally unrecognizable. So what does that say? I have often asked myself this question.

Being a professional re-toucher myself, it goes without saying that I LOVE Photoshop. I have been using Photoshop since version CS2, that's version 9.0 to yo yungins, (man I am old). For what it is, Photoshop is a wonderful tool. It is a wonderful artistic tool that can help you achieve your vision in ways the camera very well may not.

Photoshop is like what CGI is to Stop Motion. Speaking of Stop Motion, did you know that Stephen Spielberg wanted to use a variation of Stop Motion called Go Motion for Jurassic Park? Yea see the test video below. Go motion incorporates more blur to give more of a realistic effect then Stop Motion could. In the end he decided that the CGI, which was in it's infancy yielded much better and more realistic results.


Back on point though. As artists we are also authors and by that I mean  our work has properties of influence. We say, skin has to be perfect and blemish free. Your body has to fit a certain mold, your hair has to look like it was styled by the Gods because you know what, this is what beauty is in our world.

So this is what drew Lorena and I to push this concept. My instructions to her was simple, when you wake up, come over and lets shoot, No make up, no hair done, just as you are and that is exactly what we did. We had a wonderful time on this shoot and I hope you enjoy my art.  So until my next blog, thank you for reading as always and do take care.

The Voyeur And The Muse: Real Beauty

Why should I Photoshop her hair to make it perfect?
Why should I Photoshop her eyebrows to make it perfect?
Why should I Photoshop her skin to make it perfect?
You are beautiful just the way you are.

PhotoExperience: Nine Lorena Gabriella

Getting Back In The Game

SO I am finally back at it with my photography which is something that I am very, very happy to say. I have my own camera again, bought some new gear, been doing some research on branding and also spending a lot of time networking. As it swiftly is coming to a close,  I must say that 2017 has been a very interesting year for me. Aside from personal growth, a lot of my artistic views have changed. I have more of a drive to push my creative boundaries and to charter in to areas of the unknown. I have been out of the game for a very long time, much to my own chagrin and since my move here to the PNW,  I have just not been pushing my photography as much as I should have been.

I did a recent test shoot with Nine Lorena Gabriela. We met on a Facebook network page and she was looking to build her portfolio so we discussed about a collaboration. This would be my first shoot since March. This would also be the first shoot I have done with my own camera and own gear, so I was no need to say very excited. Fall is the season now and I have never done a Fall portrait session, so this was definitely something I was looking forward to. One of the things I always do is scout my locations. I want to get a sense of my surroundings, my light and where I will stage my subject. With Fall being the theme, I wanted an area that would show the true beauty of this amazing season.

I went on a camera hike around the Japanese Gulch Trail near me. It has some nice spots but they were not ideally what I was seeing in my head. In addition to that, to get to these spots we would have to hike a bit and with a 100lbs a gear in damp weather, that was a no bueno. So I ended up scoping out Harbour view park, which had some nice trees that were perfect. One problem I had, was that I was not sure if I would need a permit and it was an open area. Either ways I texted Nine the  photos and said hey this is going to be our spot at 8am. The next day to my surprise she sends me some photos from a trail in Shoreline that she frequented. It was absolutely perfect and definitely what I saw  in my head, a model who scouts awesome is that. So we finalized everything, set our designated meet up spot and 9 am was the time.

Saturday morning, I am packing my gear and on the road. Nine had alarm issues so we did not meet at the time agreed upon but it was absolutely fine. We go to the parking area and hiked down for about five minutes and this spot was just beyond amazing. A beautiful area overlooking the Sound, to say it was breathtaking would be an injustice.

We set up, go through our wardrobe and get on with the shoot. I had my 22" Alien Bees old school deep dish BD that has since been discontinued. I still love that Beauty Dish and favor it over the new shallow versions because it gives a better wrap around light in my opinion. I have long been a big fan of the Alien Bees brand. They are reliable, affordable and their Customer Service is beyond unparalleled. We got some great images which you can view below. Nine was amazing to work with and we are already planning our next shoot. It feels wonderful getting back inot the craft that I love, so stay tuned, hope you appreciate the work, Excelsior.  


PhotoExperience: P3Studios Cori Twigg

My first shoot in 2017 was an absolute blast. Over the past three years I have not done much in the way of my work. Something that really disheartened because photography is my absolute passion. One my main goals for the new year was to get back in hard and heavy. Research, restructure and re-brand, what I called the triple R's was my mantra. One thing I have learned living here in the Pacific Northwest is how big the art culture is here and this was something that I initially found intimidating.

I started to feel that there was no room for me. Yes, I do great work but if nobody knows your name, then what does that make you? You're forsaken, an artist whose work is abandoned and deserted. So I started doing my research and one thing that I learned was that I did not have to worry about market saturation. Clients are going to know you by your products and your services. So even though my work stood out for itself, I would have to take a look at how I offered it.

I had to do some restructuring. One of the biggest things that I am setting in motion is partnering with my best friend Nicole Slye. Nicole is a Marketing Operations Manager and has a strong passion for photography. Our partnership is equally rewarding in that she would be a great asset in helping me to promote my business more and I in turn could take her under my wing and show her how to grow in the craft. Aside from her interest in photography, Nicole also takes up pole dancing. This afforded us the fine opportunity of having a Photo Experience® with Cori Twigg or Twiggy as she known on stage, of P3Studios.

Cori is an instructor at TeamFitness in Lake Stevens, WA. She was first introduced to pole in 2013 when she won a pole dance party for being the 200th person to “like” a studio on Facebook. She loved the challenge and immediately signed up for classes and hasn’t stopped since. Pole dancing taught her how to find comfort in her own skin, to love the person she is both inside and out. With a love for fitness and an awakened desire to be a dancer, she continued to grow and learn within the pole community.

Beyond her pole and dance life, Cori works in the Finance department for a non-profit organization, providing employment services to persons with disabilities. She volunteers for various social events and has been recognized as Volunteer of the Year. She is happily married and a mother of 4 children, the youngest being 14. She loves sharing her passion for fitness, pole and Liquid Motion®. Nothing makes her happier than seeing her students dance at the end of a class. See you until my next blog and enjoy the images.



Discovering The Pacific Northwest: Northern State Mental Asylum

I have always considered myself crazy, so why would I not want to visit a mental asylum that is supposedly haunted??? Too bad this hiking adventure wasn't going to be at night, I am always down for some spooky good ole fun. To all the readers, visitors, creatives and aspiring photographers, the adventure continues with another trek, exploring around the Pacific Northwest. This time the place to be tackled would be the Northern State Mental Asylum in Sedro Wooley and the North Cascades Highway.

My best friend, protege and upcoming photographer extraordinaire Nicole, once again chose the location. As it turns out this would be more of an exploration than a hike. Little did I know was that this was going to be a two in one day, exploration and hike.

The Northern State Mental Facility closed its doors in 1973, interestingly enough the year of my birth, coincidence? I think not! The facility is rich in history and I learned so many things during my research. Northern Sate was built because of the overcrowding of two other mental facilities, Western State Hospital in Steilacoom, and Eastern State Hospital in Medical Lake, near Spokane. Built in 1909, at its high point, the hospital housed over 2,000 patients and provided more than 1,000 jobs. Public perception of mental hospitals changed in the early 70's and after State Legislature cut down on funding, the hospital was closed. What remains now is a recreation park, while some of the other buildings are used for job corp and other purposes.

After our exploration, we decided to drive to wherever the roads would take us. Nicole had a notion for us to hike a Waterfall in Newhalem that was lit up at night. Along the way we stopped at Eagle Winery for a brief tasting of some locally made sweet drink. Great place to stop and visit if you are ever passing through.

The hostess at the winery suggested that we stop and take a look at the Eagles. This time of year is Bald Eagle watching season and she suggested that we stop in Rockport to see them. The Eagles were heading towards the North Cascades to feed on Salmon. Rockport was a very popular spot to get a sighting of these beautiful birds. When we arrived, there were a quite a few people there trying to get a glimpse of these majestic birds. The zoom we had was only a Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G. Would you like to know how I felt when a guy walks up next to me with a Canon EF Telephoto Lens for Canon EF ‑ 500mm? Yea his was bigger than mine so I quickly tucked mine away. I was able to get a shot of an Eagle though, which I am somewhat proud of, see if you can spot him.

NDS_3970North Cascades.jpg

After this it was on to our next adventure, wait I did say hike, well this was more of a drive hike if there is such a thing.  It was one of the most humbling and beautiful experiences I have ever had. This was Nicole's first time on this trek as well, and needless to say we were both beyond amazed. As we were driving along the North Cascades Highway, we saw guys river rafting, frozen waterfalls and we could hear rocks falling around us from the mountains. This was indeed a step up from the last hike but sadly we were unable to visit the night lit waterfall because the area was closed. Well that is all for now, enjoy the photos and video and there will be more coming.

Discovering The Pacific Northwest: Twin Falls Snoqualmie

 I have been living here in the Pacific Northwest for over three years now. I love this place, it's beauty truly haunts me. When I tell people where I am from, they often ask me, what am I doing here or do I miss home. I love my country, I love our culture, I love the simplicity that is the way of life. I miss my family and close friends but I have seen enough Sun, sand and sea to last other people’s lifetimes. I wake up everyday and see mountains. On my drive to work and back home, there are ten story high evergreen trees across the highway and sometimes clouds creep across. It is utterly amazing and humbling.

 I recently started hiking more. The wonderful thing about living in the Pacific Northwest is that there is so much to see and experience. A few weeks ago, my best friend and I decided to tackle Twin Falls, which is on the south fork of the Snoqualmie River. This would be my very first time and her third, but first up the back trail. I am an island boy at heart, so admittedly I am not used to real hiking preparedness. In the Bahamas as a kid, we called hiking “exploring.” It was just wandering out in the back of the bush, eating Coco Plums and Guana Berries. You know to this day I still do not even know what the Guana Berries were...we just ate them and they were tasty.

 Nicole was on top of things though, as she is an avid hiker. So she had all our gear packed. Snacks, water and crampons for our shoes. I did not know or understand what crampons were until we got to the trail-head and it  became apparently clear that we needed them. As soon as I stepped out of the car after we parked I  was sliding all across the place. The spike son the crampons allowed us to walk without fear of breaking something. We got ourselves packed and headed on out. I was beyond excited. The hike was not very long, but it was an absolute blast. Some people on the hike had to actually slide along the ground on their bottoms because they were just wearing regular shoes.  

 Even though it was a short hike, calling it an eye opening experience does not do it justice. Being in nature, the sights and sounds, the feeling is just beyond invigorating. I am a photographer, I see the world quite differently. I see light...I see how it shapes things, how it brings things to life a world that people don't ordinarily see. Close your eyes, hold your breath...empty your mind. This is the Pacific Northwest and what you see here is a small parcel of what it offers. Click on the images below and share the experience.


Photo Experience Senior Session: Anika

I had the fine opportunity of shooting my first Senior Portrait Session since moving here to the Pacific Northwest and it was indeed a blast. Having finally found my footing here, I must say I am quite happy with my decisions to reinvent my business mold and seek more of the niche market areas with my photography. 

Well the arrangements and date was made and I was both eager and excited. As with my last photo shoot, I did not have the time afforded to me to scout the location, which was going to be on the clients farm. More and more, I no longer have the trepidation or concerns I used to have when it comes to having some knowledge of the lay of the land before  a photo session. Not to say it is not something that I will not continue to practice when I can but being able to be sharp on your feet is something that every good photographer has to be keen on.

The clients farm was located down in the Snohomish, more so on the country side. As we drove down we passed a quite a few farms, some with a few cattle, goats and llamas and some that were just abandoned.  My eyes scoped out quite a bit of ideal spots that would be great for some possible future shoot locations. I arrived and met Cindy, she took me on a tour of the farm which was very expansive. Cindy rescues distressed  animals, most of which on the farm were horses. Since I had arrived early I had some time to spend milling about and setting up my shots, while Anika, Cindy's daughter got ready.

Prior to actually meeting Annika I had spoken to Cindy in regards to whether or not Anika had any type of theme in mind, her response was she is simple and if you ask her she would say, I don't know. Sure enough when I met Anika her answer was exactly that, I don't know. Annika was a country girl and an accomplished horseback rider so I decided that we would incorporate that into the theme for the shoot. As an added bonus the family pets were awesome, they had three dogs two Retrievers and a Corgi as well as a cat with cattitude. I can not recall the two Retriever's names but the Corgi was named Maggie and she sure was a ball of energy. With this opportunity, I decided to get some pet photos to use to promote more of my pet photography and let me just add that Cindy's family pets sure knew how to strike poses, at one point when I was trying getting some shots of Maggie the cat ran right out struck a pose that pretty much said, hey buddy my time to shine.

For this shoot I opted to use my 22" BD and natural light. It was a cloudy day which is what I was counting on and the sky was just one big giant soft box so the odds were in my favor. Whenever it comes to lighting my aim is to treat my set up as if it was a movie. I light with the intent of setting mood and atmosphere. I always want my images to have a high production like look and feel to them. Needless to say Annika was a joy to work with. A beaming smile and just an all around great young girl.

I have worked with many experienced models in the past and there were a few who were just difficult to shoot. Annika's mother really called it on point when she said she is simple, I was explaining the direction for one of the set ups and she got where I was going without further question. Her ambition is to be a nurse someday and I have no doubt she will be a great one. Below are a few samples from our shoot that I hope that you will enjoy. You can find more on the Senior Portraits tab in Gallery I. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, this has been another fine episode of The Full Frame.

PhotoExperience Child Session: Peyton

Last Sunday was a rather eventful day I must say, it was my first time shooting for a client since I have been living here in the Pacific Northwest. While I was still heavily into retouch work, having garnered a few loyal clients, I was not really doing much behind the camera work. I had been spending a lot of time doing my research on the market here and as far as photography goes it is fair to say that is beyond saturated. So of course I would have to shake things up regarding my work and pretty much reinvent my overall business.

For any business to be successful it has to adapt to change and it has to always improve on its products and services. One of the big changes that I made was to change my website and business name. I had to bid a sad adieu to the ©Arclightstudios moniker and proudly welcome my new business name ©Photographer Simon Mott. If you are wondering why not Simon Mott Photography, well it's because doing that is rather typical and common and those are two traits I have never been fond of doing. 

Redesigning my website was a task but I am quite satisfied with the outcome. The one thing I wanted to achieve with the new website design is to make it feel more personable, which is why I finally opted to add my name to it. My aim is to now to concentrate more on niche areas in portrait work. While I loved shooting fashion and enjoyed my work with models, I was finding myself becoming very starved creative wise. Shooting models in swimsuits in all honesty does not really require much in the area of creativity.  I have always said that I want to produce work that stimulates the mind and senses. So I will be working more heavily on some very personal projects in the weeks to come.

Back to my shoot though before I totally derail myself, so my client was a massage therapist, who came across some of my work and was interested in some shots of what seems to be an upcoming trend of daughters doing portrait sessions in their mothers wedding dresses. At first I did not get it nor did I  know how I felt about it, was it weird or was it strange? Then I thought there is something of a poignant coming of age subtext in there.  Same as if it were a young boy in his fathers wedding suit so it started dawning on me how cool of a concept this was.

I liked the idea more and more after speaking with Monika, hearing her excitement and seeing some of the images she pinned, I had a clear notion of what it is she wanted. I have always found it important as a photographer to get a clear and complete understanding of what direction and vision it is that your clients are looking to achieve. I see the relationship between me and my clients as something of a relationship between a Director and Cinematographer. Combined they aid in giving the overall look and feel to a movie. So once I had this clear understanding the next step was to find a suitable location. The challenge with that notion was, this is not Nassau, where I had complete knowledge of where all the cool spots are and how to get to them. 

I had heard about Legion Park which was down in Everett but I had never  been there and did not have the opportunity to scout it prior to the shoot, which was kind of shaky with me because I always like to have some notion before hand of where my set up will be, my back drop and what obstacles I would have to deal with. So I met with Monika, her husband and their daughter who would be my subject and was so adorable, went through the looks and props and decided to head on out to the location.

When I arrived at the park I was very surprised at how awesome a spot it was. To think after all this time such an awesome spot was a mere ten minute drive from where I lived. It offered an awesome panorama of the Cascade mountains and the Puget Sound, to say the view was just eye dropping would be a disservice. After walking the location I marked the spots that would be my shooting sets and got to making the magic happen.

It was an awesome time and Peyton was such a spectacular and cooperative subject who just knew how to hit her poses. Every time I would flub by having a misfire or the batteries from my Cyber Commander drop out (I misplaced the battery cover) she would laugh and point at me. She was such a cute kid and her dad Colin was very helpful in assisting me with holding my lights.  It  was a a great shoot and it felt good getting back into the swing. Below are a few images from the shoot. Hope you enjoy them and stay tuned. More good stuff will be coming soon.